Why we’re committed to helping customers facing financial hardship

Customer Services and People Director

Affordability is a huge issue for many people living in our region. Of the 100 most deprived areas in England 41 are in the North West and, according to recent research by YouGov, nearly one in three people living here are finding it harder to pay their bills compared to this time last year.

We know that if customers are struggling to pay their water bills they are also likely to be struggling to pay other household bills and that spiraling into debt is one of the largest contributing factors to rising poverty.

As a responsible business, providing a vital service to seven million people living in the region, we’re committed to helping customers who are facing financial hardship.  

That’s why we offer a wide range of financial assistance schemes and why we publish a progress report on our affordability services every year. It’s also the reason we launched our Affordability Summit last year and why we’re holding it again this year.

We’re constantly challenging ourselves to improve the scale and effectiveness of the support we offer. We’re also dedicating time and money to building closer partnerships with other organisations who work with people in challenging circumstances. We want to improve the assistance that’s available to people in need and make sure they are accessing it.

At last year’s Affordability Summit we brought together a wide range of representatives from across the region who interact with vulnerable customers and those experiencing financial difficulty.

This year, we can report significant progress with the creation of a digital Hardship Hub which will provide money advisors with a ‘one stop shop’ for debt support schemes. Developed in conjunction with experts from the money advice community, including the Citizens Advice Bureau, it’s been dubbed a ‘trip advisor’ for financial advice. Money advisors can use it to search for all the available help in their local area and can also rate schemes and recommend them to colleagues.

We’re launching the Hardship Hub on Monday 21 January 2019 at our Affordability Summit which we’re holding in Manchester with Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham as keynote speaker. As well as meeting the costs of developing the new Hub, we’ve also committed ourselves to funding its first year of running costs.

As a company, we’re committed to continuing our collaboration with the debt advice community to help prevent people getting into problem debt in the first place or, if they’re already there, to help them find a manageable and affordable way out of debt and back on track.

Find out more about our new North West Hardship Hub here.